Parents of children with disabilities are often devastated when they learn that their children are not learning or functioning at the expected level. According to the Center for the Improvement of Child Caring, 12 to 15 percent of all children have disabilities or other special needs. Parents are not alone in the journey caring for a child with special needs.
A child may be identified by child find or referred by a school professional. Although this process may be routine for school or medical personnel, it is far from routine for parents. In fact, this can be a traumatic experience.
Common responses to learning that the child has a disability or has special needs are anger, confusion, guilt, or frustration. It is acceptable to show emotions. Some parents cry. Others hold their feelings inside. It is important to deal with the information in a positive way.
It is important for parents to understand that they are not alone in this situation. There are other parents that deal with the same situation. Another parent or support group can help with questions or even give needed support. If groups are not available, a family member, member of clergy, or friend may be able to help with support.
Once the shock of learning about the disability has passed, the next step would be to learn all that you can about the disability. If the disability affects the learning of the child, special education services may be appropriate at school. An evaluation is needed to assess all areas related to the disability.
Most parents want the best for their children. Take the time to communicate information about the disability to the child. Success in life is possible even when a disability is diagnosed. Interventions make it possible to lead a prosperous life. Life at home should not change. The child may have a disability, but he or she is still a member of the family. Challenge the child to be as independent as possible. Most importantly, provide support and lots of love.
The Center for the Improvement of Child Caring, http://www.ciccparenting.org/pdf/Data_and_Under-Detection.ppt